James Lowson - Stick with departing players
Seven points from safety with six games to go, with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United all still to play.
That’s the situation Sunderland found themselves in four years ago in mid-April, just one game removed from a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Now imagine if Gus Poyet decided that instead of picking his best team for a daunting trip to the Etihad that Sunderland had no realistic chance of winning, he would use the game to further develop young players so they’re ready for the Championship.
“Sorry Marcos Alonso - no, we don’t need you for this one”, “Fabio, we’re playing Liam Agnew and Charis Mavrias, because they’re young players contracted to Sunderland beyond the end of the season.”
There would be no great escape. You wouldn’t be able to gloat, still, to Chelsea fans about being the team to end Chelsea’s three plus year record of not losing in the league at home under Jose Mourinho. We wouldn’t have got our extra three years in the top flight, that brief glimmer of hope and a promising future that looked likely under Big Sam.
Things are grim at the Stadium of Light at the moment - this has been a wretched season that we’ll all be glad to see the back of. As Sunderland fans we know what a relegation season looks like and this has all the hallmarks of one.
But, the idea that the team and management staff should give up and play more of the under 23s is laughable.
The six best under 23 graduates at the Academy of Light have represented the men’s team this year, and that’s something to be proud of. Playing more of the kids when the atmosphere around the club is so toxic and all round confidence levels within the squad are so low will not help improve results or morale.
This idea of playing the kids because they run around a lot is naïve and simplistic. Chris Coleman must play the best players available to him and the system that best suits and pray for good fortune.
Common sense has to prevail, Sunderland can’t give up and start being ran like a Sunday League team until relegation is a mathematical certainty.
Mark Carrick - Plan ahead for next season
Whilst I understand the nostalgic view, it simply doesn’t hold water in 2018. This is not Marcos Alonso, this is Billy Jones. It’s not Fabio Borini, it’s Ashley Fletcher.
Let’s just have a quick look at the players that we’re talking about.
First up is John O’Shea. There are those who say his age has caught up with him and there are those who say he’s part of the losing culture. Either way, is he going to be here next season? I sincerely hope not. Is he contributing anything to the current cause? By that, ask yourself if he’s suddenly going to lead Sunderland to eight clean sheets and pull off a Poyet-style miracle? Well, hardly.
Let’s throw in goalkeeper Lee Camp and fellow defenders Billy Jones and Marc Wilson at this point. Same questions - same answers.
Brendan Galloway seems to have lingered longer than expected, whilst Jake Clarke-Salter managed to find a novel way of staying out of the side by picking up cards like it’s his birthday.
The issue defensively is who could replace those due to leave. The problem with letting Tom Beadling spend some time with Allan Johnston north of the border at Dunfermline Athletic or allowing Micheal Ledger move to Norway is there are now few options we can call on. Lamine Kone will, technically, still be our player in League One.
How about offensively?
Kazenga LuaLua has barely featured due to the injuries he arrived with. Chris Coleman was hoping for an impact player to add craft and goals, but you can’t get any of that from a player on the treatment table. We had that a lot last year with Jan Kirchhoff and Victor Anichebe, hence why they’re not here today.
Ashley Fletcher has been a unmitigated disaster. He came with potential, but then so did Jozy Altidore. He’s clearly not going to add anything between now and May, so surely it’s a no-brainer to get the Asoro-Maja partnership primed for next season. Coleman has already said he intends to keep the pair irrespective of where we find ourselves in August.
Ovie Ejaria has filled a role, but if the choice is the Liverpool youngster or getting Paddy McNair back and ready for a pre-season, I’d say there’s no real decision to make.
There’s clearly no point mentioning Ty Browning or Jonny Williams - two injured loanees who, if they haven’t already, will be back at their parent clubs in a few weeks - or Darron Gibson. Is he really going to be here after what happened last weekend?
Are you going to miss any of those mentioned? Isn’t it time we just moved on and gave the likes of Max Stryjek and Elliot Embleton a chance to showcase their talents? It’s not as if George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch or Ethan Robson haven’t earned the right to be in this side already.
What would you do?
This poll is closed
Stick with departing players
Play the ones that’ll be here next season